GEORGE NEWS - A restaurant situated on the banks of the Kaaimans river, just below the N2, proved to be a popular destination for holidaymakers over the festive season last December. However, the setting of the eatery and the lack of parking for beachgoers who wanted to visit the river, not the restaurant, triggered some concern from the public.
One concerned resident asked whether the owner of the property has the necessary permission from authorities to operate such a development, keeping in mind that the sewerage and kitchen refuse will have to be taken care of. Another visitor was highly annoyed when a car guard asked him to remove his vehicle in the parking area, because it was reserved for those who visit the restaurant.
The flow of traffic at the off-ramp from the Kaaimans Pass proved to be a challenge over the peak season.
Enquiry brought to light that the owner of the property does have the necessary permission to operate a restaurant and to reserve access thereto, including the parking area. According to Delia Power, the acting director of planning and development of George Municipality, the restaurant was approved after following all required processes. Power said formal comment was obtained from the Department Environmental Affairs and Development Planning (DEA & DP) about the proposal.
"They confirmed the proposal did not appear to exceed the thresholds to trigger any listed activities, but that it may trigger if activity is expanded. None of the commenting bodies objected to the application. Sanral originally objected to the application over access, but later approved it."
Power said that on evaluating the application, it was found to be consistent with the spatial plans for the area, would not affect any neighbours and complied with the zoning requirements.
"There was thus no reason to refuse the application. The approval is limited to the conducting of a restaurant. There are no conditions limiting the operations, as long as they do so in accordance with the approved site development plan. In terms of waste management, they do provide for an enclosed area on site where refuse is stored."
The George Herald could not reach the owner for comment.
After the initial application was approved by all authorities, however, the DEA's environmental management inspectors conducted a site inspection in October last year, which revealed that certain activities* done on the property in the interim, do indeed require prior environmental authorisation from the department (in terms of the National Environmental Management Act, 1998 Environmental Impact Assessment Regulations).
According to Rudolph van Jaarsveld, head of communications (directorate: Strategic and Operational Support), the department issued a pre-compliance notice on 26 November 2018 to the property owner, outlining the alleged offences and the penalties associated with such offences.
"The property owner was provided with an opportunity to make representations as to why a compliance notice should not be issued," said Van Jaarsveld. "Subsequent to the issuing of the pre-compliance notice, the property owner appointed an environmental assessment practitioner (EAP) who provided brief representation on behalf of the property owner and requested that the operation of the restaurant be allowed to continue whilst the environmental impact assessment is being undertaken."
The department provided the property owner with a time frame of 60 calendar days (which lapsed on 26 January) to inform the department of the decision to correct the alleged offences.
The DEA & DP and George Municipality will meet on site next week and the relevant authorities will take action according to their findings.
- Infrastructure was being developed within 32m of a watercourse and clearing of vegetation within 100m inland from the high water mark of an estuarine functional zone (Kaaimans river estuary) had also occurred on the property.
* Read more about the pre-compliance notes issued to the property owner at www.georgeherald.com.
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